Peter McCourt

faculty_img Academic Title: Professor

Campus: St. George

CSB Appointment: Full

Primary Undergraduate Department:
Cell & Systems Biology

Graduate Programs:
Cell & Systems Biology
Psychology

Titles and Honors:
Canada Research Chair in Plant Molecular Biology

Jack Dainty Distinguished Professor

Academic or Administrative Appointments:
Education:
Ph.D. Michigan State University 1986
M.Sc. Genetics University of Alberta 1983
B.Sc. Genetics University of Alberta 1978

 

Mailing Address
Department of Cell & Systems Biology
University of Toronto
25 Willcocks St.
Toronto, ON M5S 3B2
Canada

 

Contact Information
Office phone: 416-978-0523
Office: ESC 4059
Lab: ESC 4055
Lab phone: 416-978-0837
Email: peter.mccourt@utoronto.ca
URL: http://www.mccourtlab.com

 

Research Areas
Biotechnology
Chemical Biology
Developmental Biology
Functional Genomics
Genetics
Molecular Biology
Plant Biology
Systems Biology

 

Research

The general objectives of our research group are the development of genetic, genomic and chemical biology screening technologies to identify genes that control the synthesis and signaling of select plant hormones. Presently, we are focused on two hormones, abscisic acid (ABA) and strigolactones (SLs). ABA is involved in protecting plants from abiotic stresses such as drought and cold. We are developing meso-scale genetic and protein-protein interaction maps between a few hundred genes involved in the ABA response in Arabidopsis. With an understanding of these ABA networks, it will be possible to make rational improvements in crop species. Towards this end, we are presently translating information garnered from Arabidopsis to crops such as canola and soybean. Although SLs, also have many hormonal roles in Arabidopsis, these compounds are mostly known for their ability to act as germination cues in host/parasite plant interactions. These parasites have evolved strong seed dormancy, which is broken only when they sense SLs extruding from a host’s root. The use of SLs as a germination cue, which allows the parasite to coordinate its lifecycle with its host, has devastating consequences for developing world agriculture. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, parasitic plants have infested up to two-thirds of the arable land and represent one of the largest challenges to food security on that continent, affecting over 100 million people. To directly combat this major problem, we are developing high throughput chemical genomics screens to identify SL mimics that fool parasitic plants into germinating in the absence of a host.

 

Publications

2015

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50 years of Arabidopsis research: highlights and future directions.Provart NJ, Alonso J, Assmann SM, Bergmann D, Brady SM, Brkljacic J, Browse J, Chapple C, Colot V, Cutler S, Dangl J, Ehrhardt D, Friesner JD, Frommer WB, Grotewold E, Meyerowitz E, Nemhauser J, Nordborg M, Pikaard C, Shanklin J, Somerville C, Stitt M, Torii KU, Waese J, Wagner D, McCourt P.New Phytol. 2015 Oct;
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Structure-function analysis identifies highly sensitive strigolactone receptors in Striga.Toh S, Holbrook-Smith D, Stogios PJ, Onopriyenko O, Lumba S, Tsuchiya Y, Savchenko A, McCourt P.Science 2015 Oct;350(6257):203-7
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PARASITIC PLANTS. Probing strigolactone receptors in Striga hermonthica with fluorescence.Tsuchiya Y, Yoshimura M, Sato Y, Kuwata K, Toh S, Holbrook-Smith D, Zhang H, McCourt P, Itami K, Kinoshita T, Hagihara S.Science 2015 Aug;349(6250):864-8
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2014

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Towards personalized agriculture: what chemical genomics can bring to plant biotechnology.Stokes ME, McCourt P.Front Plant Sci 2014;5:344
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Detection of Parasitic Plant Suicide Germination Compounds Using a High-Throughput Arabidopsis HTL/KAI2 Strigolactone Perception System.Toh S, Holbrook-Smith D, Stokes ME, Tsuchiya Y, McCourt P.Chem. Biol. 2014 Aug;21(8):988-98
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A mesoscale abscisic acid hormone interactome reveals a dynamic signaling landscape in Arabidopsis.Lumba S, Toh S, Handfield LF, Swan M, Liu R, Youn JY, Cutler SR, Subramaniam R, Provart N, Moses A, Desveaux D, McCourt P.Dev. Cell 2014 May;29(3):360-72
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2013

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ABI3 controls embryo degreening through Mendel's I locus.Delmas F, Sankaranarayanan S, Deb S, Widdup E, Bournonville C, Bollier N, Northey JG, McCourt P, Samuel MA.Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2013 Oct;110(40):E3888-94
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Characterization of a cruciferin deficient mutant of Arabidopsis and its utility for overexpression of foreign proteins in plants.Lin Y, Pajak A, Marsolais F, McCourt P, Riggs CD.PLoS ONE 2013;8(5):e64980
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Forward genetic screening for the improved production of fermentable sugars from plant biomass.Stamatiou G, Vidaurre DP, Shim I, Tang X, Moeder W, Bonetta D, McCourt P.PLoS ONE 2013;8(1):e55616
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2012

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HY5 is involved in strigolactone-dependent seed germination in Arabidopsis.Toh S, McCourt P, Tsuchiya Y.Plant Signal Behav 2012 May;7(5):556-8
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The embryonic leaf identity gene FUSCA3 regulates vegetative phase transitions by negatively modulating ethylene-regulated gene expression in Arabidopsis.Lumba S, Tsuchiya Y, Delmas F, Hezky J, Provart NJ, Shi Lu Q, McCourt P, Gazzarrini S.BMC Biol. 2012;10:8
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Thermoinhibition uncovers a role for strigolactones in Arabidopsis seed germination.Toh S, Kamiya Y, Kawakami N, Nambara E, McCourt P, Tsuchiya Y.Plant Cell Physiol. 2012 Jan;53(1):107-17
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Strigolactones as small molecule communicators.Tsuchiya Y, McCourt P.Mol Biosyst 2012 Feb;8(2):464-9
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2011

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Next-generation mapping of Arabidopsis genes.Austin RS, Vidaurre D, Stamatiou G, Breit R, Provart NJ, Bonetta D, Zhang J, Fung P, Gong Y, Wang PW, McCourt P, Guttman DS.Plant J. 2011 Aug;67(4):715-25
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2010

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A small-molecule screen identifies new functions for the plant hormone strigolactone.Tsuchiya Y, Vidaurre D, Toh S, Hanada A, Nambara E, Kamiya Y, Yamaguchi S, McCourt P.Nat. Chem. Biol. 2010 Oct;6(10):741-9
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Plant nuclear hormone receptors: a role for small molecules in protein-protein interactions.Lumba S, Cutler S, McCourt P.Annu. Rev. Cell Dev. Biol. 2010;26:445-69
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Arabidopsis: a rich harvest 10 years after completion of the genome sequence.McCourt P, Benning C.Plant J. 2010 Mar;61(6):905-8
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Plant chemical genetics.McCourt P, Desveaux D.New Phytol. 2010 Jan;185(1):15-26
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2009

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Strigolactones: a new hormone with a past.Tsuchiya Y, McCourt P.Curr. Opin. Plant Biol. 2009 Oct;12(5):556-61
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Abscisic acid inhibits type 2C protein phosphatases via the PYR/PYL family of START proteins.Park SY, Fung P, Nishimura N, Jensen DR, Fujii H, Zhao Y, Lumba S, Santiago J, Rodrigues A, Chow TF, Alfred SE, Bonetta D, Finkelstein R, Provart NJ, Desveaux D, Rodriguez PL, McCourt P, Zhu JK, Schroeder JI, Volkman BF, Cutler SR.Science 2009 May;324(5930):1068-71
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CHOTTO1, a double AP2 domain protein of Arabidopsis thaliana, regulates germination and seedling growth under excess supply of glucose and nitrate.Yamagishi K, Tatematsu K, Yano R, Preston J, Kitamura S, Takahashi H, McCourt P, Kamiya Y, Nambara E.Plant Cell Physiol. 2009 Feb;50(2):330-40
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Using reverse genetics to develop small knockout collections for specific biological questions.Northey J, McCourt P.Methods Mol. Biol. 2009;495:1-10
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2008

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The ABA receptors -- we report you decide.McCourt P, Creelman R.Curr. Opin. Plant Biol. 2008 Oct;11(5):474-8
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A novel role for protein farnesylation in plant innate immunity.Goritschnig S, Weihmann T, Zhang Y, Fobert P, McCourt P, Li X.Plant Physiol. 2008 Sep;148(1):348-57
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The synthesis of the rhamnogalacturonan II component 3-deoxy-D-manno-2-octulosonic acid (Kdo) is required for pollen tube growth and elongation.Delmas F, Séveno M, Northey JG, Hernould M, Lerouge P, McCourt P, Chevalier C.J. Exp. Bot. 2008;59(10):2639-47
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2006

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High-throughput screening of small molecules for bioactivity and target identification in Caenorhabditis elegans.Burns AR, Kwok TC, Howard A, Houston E, Johanson K, Chan A, Cutler SR, McCourt P, Roy PJ.Nat Protoc 2006;1(4):1906-14
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Plant hormone receptors: perception is everything.Chow B, McCourt P.Genes Dev. 2006 Aug;20(15):1998-2008
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A small-molecule screen in C. elegans yields a new calcium channel antagonist.Kwok TC, Ricker N, Fraser R, Chan AW, Burns A, Stanley EF, McCourt P, Cutler SR, Roy PJ.Nature 2006 May;441(7089):91-5
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2005

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Plant biology: a receptor for gibberellin.Bonetta D, McCourt P.Nature 2005 Sep;437(7059):627-8
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Preventing leaf identity theft with hormones.Lumba S, McCourt P.Curr. Opin. Plant Biol. 2005 Oct;8(5):501-5
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Molecular tailoring of farnesylation for plant drought tolerance and yield protection.Wang Y, Ying J, Kuzma M, Chalifoux M, Sample A, McArthur C, Uchacz T, Sarvas C, Wan J, Dennis DT, McCourt P, Huang Y.Plant J. 2005 Aug;43(3):413-24
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Dude, where's my phenotype? Dealing with redundancy in signaling networks.Cutler S, McCourt P.Plant Physiol. 2005 Jun;138(2):558-9
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2004

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The transcription factor FUSCA3 controls developmental timing in Arabidopsis through the hormones gibberellin and abscisic acid.Gazzarrini S, Tsuchiya Y, Lumba S, Okamoto M, McCourt P.Dev. Cell 2004 Sep;7(3):373-85
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Systems approaches to understanding cell signaling and gene regulation.Provart NJ, McCourt P.Curr. Opin. Plant Biol. 2004 Oct;7(5):605-9
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The FUS3 transcription factor functions through the epidermal regulator TTG1 during embryogenesis in Arabidopsis.Tsuchiya Y, Nambara E, Naito S, McCourt P.Plant J. 2004 Jan;37(1):73-81
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Hormone signalling from a developmental context.Chow B, McCourt P.J. Exp. Bot. 2004 Jan;55(395):247-51
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2003

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Lack of recognition of Nepsilon-(carboxymethyl)lysine by the mouse liver reticulo-endothelial system: implications for pathophysiology.Svistounov DN, Berg TJ, McCourt PA, Zykova SN, Elvevold KH, Nagai R, Horiuchi S, Smedsrod BH.Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 2003 Oct;309(4):786-91
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Cross-talk in plant hormone signalling: what Arabidopsis mutants are telling us.Gazzarrini S, McCourt P.Ann. Bot. 2003 May;91(6):605-12
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The ABSCISIC ACID INSENSITIVE 3 (ABI3) gene is modulated by farnesylation and is involved in auxin signaling and lateral root development in Arabidopsis.Brady SM, Sarkar SF, Bonetta D, McCourt P.Plant J. 2003 Apr;34(1):67-75
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Hormone evolution: The key to signalling.Kushiro T, Nambara E, McCourt P.Nature 2003 Mar;422(6928):122
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2002

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A screen for genes that function in abscisic acid signaling in Arabidopsis thaliana.Nambara E, Suzuki M, Abrams S, McCarty DR, Kamiya Y, McCourt P.Genetics 2002 Jul;161(3):1247-55
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1999

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GENETIC ANALYSIS OF HORMONE SIGNALING.McCourt P.Annu. Rev. Plant Physiol. Plant Mol. Biol. 1999 Jun;50:219-243
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